“Hi,” I said.
He stopped. “How are you young women this fine evening? Would you have any spare change?”
We reached into our wallets, each placing coins into his hand.
“Much appreciated. Let me sing you a song.”
The suggestion embarrassed me. Ick, you don’t have to do tricks for the money.
He launched into a solo that resembled an out-of-tune violin. It turned into an incomprehensible monologue. He wagged his finger in our faces. "G*&@#d people, think they own the f*&^g world …"
I nodded in faux sympathy. Truth be told, I had expected him to perform a trick for the money. I’d expected him to disappear.
He stormed off in full rant, then stopped, turned around, and tipped his hat. “I’m going to get a beer, thanks to you ladies.”
Now I may have suspected he’d spend the money on liquor, but he wasn’t supposed to say it. I wanted to snatch back my seventy-five cents. It had strings attached. I’d paid that panhandler to leave me alone, so I could remain safe in my spiritual bubble.
Kindness is a privilege for the giver, not a gift to the recipient. It doesn’t expect the beneficiary to be polite, stop drinking, or move along. It does not anticipate future benefits or recall that it gave at the office.
Because I still do those things, I have much to learn. Thank goodness the bodhisattvas of the street will continue to approach me with their alms bowls.